ALMSGIVING
The most of the text given below is from the Douay-Rheims version. Other versions are identified. Links are provided to the NIV at Bible Gateway for comparison, except for the apocrypha where links are to the NAB. Catholic may wish to compare the texts to the New American Bible (NAB) at the National Conference of Bishops website, or the New Jerusalem Bible.


"Any material favour done to assist the needy, and prompted by charity, is almsgiving... [A]lmsgiving implies a material service rendered to the poor for Christ's sake." Catholic Encyclopedia (1913) entry on Alms.


Son, defraud not the poor of alms, and turn not away your eyes from the poor. Eccius. 4:1 Douay Rheims version, NAB.

Bow down thy ear cheerfully to the poor, and pay what you owe, and answer peaceable words with mildness. Eccius. 4:8.

Do not forget to do good and to impart; for by such sacrifices God's favor is obtained. Heb. 13: 16.

By charity serve one another. Gal.5:13.

He who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he that sows in blessings shall also reap in blessings. 2Cor. 9:6.

"Give alms from your possessions. Do not turn your face away from any of the poor, and God's face will not be turned away from you.

Son, give alms in proportion to what you own. If you have great wealth, give alms out of your abundance; if you have but little, distribute even some of that. But do not hesitate to give alms; you will be storing up a goodly treasure for yourself against the day of adversity.

Almsgiving frees one from death, and keeps one from going into the dark abode.

Alms are a worthy offering in the sight of the Most High for all who give them." Tob. 4:7-11 NAB.

Amen I say to you, this poor widow has cast in more than all they who have cast into the treasury. For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want cast in all she had, even her whole living. Mark 12:43.

Eat thy bread with the hungry and the needy, and with your garments cover the naked. Tab. 4:17. NAB.

When you do an almsdeed, sound not a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and In the streets, that they may be honored by men. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you [give] alms, let not your left hand know what your right hand [is doing], that your alms may be In secret; and thy Father, who sees in secret, will repay you. Mat. 6:2-4.

Every one give as he has determined in his heart, let him give not with sadness or of necessity [compulsion]: for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Cor. 9:7.

"My child, do not mix reproach with your good deeds, or spoil your gift by harsh words. Does not the dew give relief from the scorching heat? So a word is better than a gift. Indeed, does not a word surpass a good gift? Both are to be found in a gracious person." Sirac 18:15-18. NRSV. Compare the NAB

Make yourself affable to the congregation of the poor. Ecclus. 4:7. [But the NRSV has it as: "Endear yourself to the congregation; bow your head low to the great. Give a hearing to the poor, and return their greeting politely." Sir. 4:7-8. DR]

"Do not grieve the hungry, or anger one in need. Do not add to the troubles of the desperate, or delay giving to the needy. Do not reject a suppliant in distress, or turn your face away from the poor. Do not avert your eye from the needy, and give no one reason to curse you; for if in bitterness of soul some should curse you, their Creator will hear their prayer." Sir. 4:3-6. NRSV. DR.

Say not to thy friend: Go and come again, and tomorrow I will give to you, when you can give at present. Prov. 3:28.

"And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something - now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has - not according to what one does not have. I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance." 2Cor. 8:10-14 NRSV. NIV, DR.

Do good to your friend before you die, and according to your ability stretch out your hand, and give to the poor. Before your death work justice; for in hell there is no finding food. Ecclus. 14: 13, 17. NAB.

In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening let not your hand cease; for you know not which may rather spring up, this or that: and If both together, it shall be the better, Eccles. 11:6. NAB.

In doing good let us not fail; for In due time we shall reap, not falling. Therefore while we have time let us work good to all men, but especially to those who are of the household of the faith. Gal. 6:9.

But you, brethren, be not weary in well-doing. 2 Thess. 3:13.

Sell what you possess, and give alms; make to yourselves bags which grow not old, a treasure in heaven that fails not, where no thief approaches, nor moth corrupts. Luke 12:33.

Make unto you friends of the mammon of iniquity, that when you shall fail they may receive you into everlasting dwellings. Luke 16:9.

Do not withhold him from doing good who is able: if you are able, do good yourself also. Prov. 3:27.

"Let not your hand be open to receive and clenched when it is time to give." Sirac 4:31 NAB.

As in all things you abound in faith, and the word, and knowledge, and all carefulness: moreover also in your charity towards us, so in this grace may you also abound. I speak not as commanding, but by the carefulness of others, approving also the good disposition of your charity. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that being rich he became poor, for your sakes; that through his poverty you might be rich. 2 Cor. 8:7-9.

 

FRUITS OF ALMSGIVING

 

"On a man generous with food, blessings are invoked, and this testimony to his goodness is lasting..." Sirac 31:23. NAB.

He that is inclined to mercy shall be blessed; for of his bread he has given to the poor. Prov. 22:9.

Let my counsel be acceptable to you, and redeem your sins with alms, and your iniquities with works of mercy to the poor: perhaps he will forgive your offenses. Dan. 4:24. [In the NIV see Dan. 4:27. And see NAB footnote 6.]

In this present time let your abundance supply their want, that their abundance also may supply your want. 2 Cor. 8:14.

He that shows mercy to the poor shall be blessed. Prov. 14:21.

Whosoever shall give to drink to one of these little ones a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, amen I say to you, he shall not lose his reward. Matt. 10:42.

"[A]lms atone for sins. He who does a kindness is remembered afterward; when he falls, he finds a support." Sirac 3:29b-30 NAB.

Blessed is he that understands concerning the needy and the poor: the Lord will deliver him in the evil day. The Lord preserve him and give him life, and make him blessed upon earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies. Ps 40 in the DR is Ps. 41:1-2 in the NIV. See footnote 2 in the NAB.

Help the poor because of the commandment: and send him not away empty-handed because of his poverty. Lose thy money for thy brother and thy friend, and hide It not under a stone to be lost. Place thy treasures in the commandments of the Most High, and it shall bring thee more profit than gold. Shut up alms in the heart of the poor, and it shall obtain help for thee against all evil. Better than the shield of the mighty, and better than the spear; it shall fight for thee against thy enemy. Ecclus. 29:12-17DR.

[The NAB translates it: "Because of the precept, help the needy, and in their want, do not send them away empty-handed. Spend your money for your brother and friend, and hide it not under a stone to perish; Dispose of your treasure as the Most High commands, for that will profit you more than the gold. Store up almsgiving in your treasure house, and it will save you from every evil..." Sirach 29:9-12.]

Prayer is good with fasting and alms, more than to lay up treasures of gold; for alms delivers from death: and the same is that which purges away sins, and maketh to find mercy and life everlasting. Tob. 12:8-9, DR.. See footnote 4 in the NAB.

Give alms: and behold all things are clean unto you. Luke 11:41.

The ransom of a man's life are his riches: but he that is poor bears not reprehension. Prov. 13:8. [The NRSV has it: Prov. 13:8 "Wealth is a ransom for a person's life, but the poor get no threats."]

The relieving of thy father shall not be forgotten; for good shall be repaid to thee for the sin of thy mother. And in justice you shall be built up, and in the day of affliction you shall be remembered: and thy sins shall melt away as the ice in the fair warm weather. Ecclus. 3: 15-17, DR. [NRSV Sir. 3:15-17 "For kindness to a father will not be forgotten, and will be credited to you against your sins; in the day of your distress it will be remembered in your favor; like frost in fair weather, your sins will melt away. Whoever forsakes a father is like a blasphemer, and whoever angers a mother is cursed by the Lord."]

Stretch out your hand to the poor, that your expiation and your blessing may be perfected. Ecclus. 7:36DR. [In the NAB it is verse 32.]

"[T]he one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. As it is written, He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever." He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity..." 2Cor. 9:6-11 NRSV.

Honor the Lord with your substance, and give him the first of all fruits; and your barns shall be filled with abundance, and your presses shall run over with wine. Prov. 3:9-10

I know thy charity. Rev. 2:19.

"Some give freely, yet grow all the richer; others withhold what is due, and only suffer want. A generous person will be enriched..." Prov. 11:24-25.

He that gives to the poor shall not want; he that despises his [the poor's] entreaty shall suffer indigence. Prov. 28:27.

These were men of mercy, whose godly deeds have not failed. Ecclus.44: 10 DR, NAB.

He that oppresses the poor upbraids his Maker; but he that has pity on the poor honors him. Prov.14:31.

 

EXAMPLES OF ALMSGIVING

 

Tobias daily went among all his kindred, and comforted them, and distributed to every one as he was able out of his goods. Tob. 1: 19. [See NAB and footnote 7.]

After the Sabbath they divided the spoils to the feeble and the orphans and the widows, and the rest they took for themselves. 2 Mac. 8:28.

In Joppe there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by Interpretation is called Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. Acts 9:36.

There was a certain man in Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of that which Is called the Italian band: a religious man, and fearing God with all his house, giving much alms to the people. Acts 10: 1-2.

The disciples, every man according to his ability, purposed to send relief to the brethren who dwelt in Judea: which also they did, sending it to the ancients by the hands of Barnabas and Saul. Acts 11:29 -30.

Zacheus, standing, said to the Lord Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have wronged any man of anything, I restore him fourfold. Jesus said to him: This day is salvation come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham. Luke 19:8-10.

God is not unjust that he should forget your work, and the love which you have shown in his name, you who have ministered and do minister to the saints. Heb. 6: 10.

 

 

ON ALMSGIVING

 

He that stops his ear against the cry of the poor shall also cry himself, and shall not be heard. Prov. 21:13.

Despise not the hungry soul: and provoke not the poor in his want. Eccius. 4:2. Sirac 4 NAB

He that has mercy on the poor lends to the Lord: and he will repay him. Prov. 19:17.

If one of your brethren that dwells within the gates of your city comes to poverty: you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand, but shall open It to the poor man. You shall give to him: neither shall you do anything craftily in relieving his necessities: that the Lord thy God may bless you at all times, and in all things to which you shall put your hand. There will not be wanting poor In the land of your habitation: therefore I command you to open your hand to you needy and poor brother, that lives in the land. Deut. 15:7-11.

Give alms out of thy substance; and turn not away thy face from any poor person, for so It shall come to pass that the face of the Lord shall not be turned from you. Tob. 4:7 NAB

The alms of a man is a signet with him, and shall preserve the grace of a man as the apple of the eye. Eccius. 17:18. [ The NAB renders it: "A man's goodness God cherishes like a signet ring, a man's virtue, like the apple of his eye." Sirac 17:18.]

Neglect not to pray, and to give alms. Ecclus. 7:10. NAB ["To the poor man also extend your hand, that your blessing may be complete..." Sirac 7:32.]

If you do good, know to whom you do It, and there shall be much thanks for your good deeds. Eccius.12:1. See the NAB and footnote one.

Deal your bread to the hungry, and bring the needy and the harborless into your house: and when you see one naked, cover him, and despise not your own flesh. Then shall your light break forth as the morning, and your health shall speedily arise, and your justice shall go before your face, and the glory of the Lord shall gather you up. Then shall you call, and the Lord shall hear: you shall cry, and he shall say: Here I am. Is. 58:7-9.

Do good to your friend before you die. Ecclus. 14:13. NAB

Give to every one that asks you. Give, and It shall be given to you: good measure, and pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall they give Into your bosom, for with the same measure that you shall mete withal, It shall be measured to you again. Luke 6:30,38.

Remember the word of the Lord Jesus, how he said: It Is more blessed to give, than to receive. Acts 20:35.

1Cor. 13:3 "If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing." NRSV, NAB.

James 2:15-17 "If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill," and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead." NRSV, NAB.

Matt. 5:7 "Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy." NRSV, NAB.

1Tim. 5:16 "If any believing woman has relatives who are really widows, let her assist them; let the church not be burdened, so that it can assist those who are real widows." NRSV, NAB.

Rom. 12:20 "No, "if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads." NRSV, NAB.

 

THE SIN AND PUNISHMENT OF SELFISHNESS

 

He that despises his neighbor sins, but he that shows mercy to the poor shall be blessed. Prov. 14: 21.

If a brother or sister be naked, and want daily food, and one of you say to them: Go in peace, be you warmed and filled, yet give them not those things that are necessary for the body, what shall it profit? Jas. 2: 15-16.

He that has the substance of this world, and shall see his brother in need, and shall shut up his bowels from him, how does the charity of God abide In him? 1 John 3:17 DR, NAB, NIV.

The bread of the needy is the life of the poor: he that defrauds them thereof is a man of blood. He that takes away bread begotten by sweat is like him that kills his neighbor. Ecclus. 34:25 [See Sirac 20-21 in the NAB.]

Turn not away your eyes from the poor, for fear of anger; and leave not to them that ask you to curse you behind thy back. For the prayer of him that curses in the bitterness of his soul shall be heard; for he that made him will hear him. Ecclus. 4:5 [See Sirac 4:1-10 in the NAB.]

He that stops his ear against the cry of the poor shall also cry himself, and shall not be heard. Prov. 21:13.

He that offers sacrifice of the goods of the poor is as one that sacrifices the son in presence of the father. Ecclus. 34:24DR. [The NAB has it in verse 20 "Like the man who slays a son in his father's presence is he who offers sacrifice from the possessions of the poor."]

Am I my brother's keeper? Gen. 4:9f.


Catechism of the Catholic Church on ALMS.

CCC "2447 The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God:

He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none and he who has food must do likewise. Lk 3:11 But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you. Lk 11:41 If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? Jas 2:15-16; cf. 1 Jn 3:17."

"2462 Giving alms to the poor is a witness to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God."

"Almsgiving" in the current Catholic Catechism
and in the catechism of the Council of Trent.
 
See also A Plea for the Poor and
a theological explanation of this command to give alms.


Text from the New Revised Standard Version are used according to its grant of copyright permission. All texts are used for non-commercial religious and educational purposes only. No other used is intended or permitted. See 17USC107.

The selection of verses on almsgiving comes from those suggested in Scripture by Topic compiled and edited by Rev. Kenelm Vaughan and Rev. Newton Thompson, S.T.D., Imprimatur 1943. Some archaic spelling and words have been edited. If a passage is difficult to understand, English speaking Catholics should always compare and adopt the meaning and language of an officially approved translation such as the New American Bible or the New Jerusalem translation. The NRSV has a Catholic version with imprimatur, which the reader may also find useful.

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